RNAO welcomes Premier Ford taking important steps to implement vaccine certificates

RNAO issued the following media release on Sept. 1 in response to the government’s announcement of a vaccine certificate.

Toronto, Sept. 1, 2021. The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) welcomes the Ontario government’s vaccine certificate plan, declaring it an essential move to protect vaccinated persons and encourage vaccination among those who have yet to be fully immunized against the deadly COVID-19 virus and its variants. Ontario reported 656 new cases today and 13 more deaths (some of which occurred earlier).

RNAO first raised the idea of a vaccine passport in May and has since discussed specifics with government officials, opposition parties and in the media. To press for action, RNAO’s board of directors passed a motion on Aug. 5 calling for a mandatory passport and delineating the requirements to ensure broad applicability and address issues of equity, safety and the privacy of individuals.

Under the government’s plan, people will be required to show proof they have received both COVID-19 vaccinations before they can enter high-risk indoor public settings such as bars, casinos, gyms, theatres, and indoor dining at restaurants. It is not required for people who access personal care services such as salons and barber shops, retail stores and places of worship – something RNAO says is a missed opportunity – although the government’s mandatory masking policy remains in place.  

“As we have said on numerous occasions, nurses and health-care workers are exhausted. They have been battling the pandemic since March 2020 and there is no end in sight,” says Dr. Doris Grinspun, RNAO CEO. “The vaccine certificate system announced today by Premier Ford is needed to encourage those who have yet to protect themselves fully and those they come in contact with. It will also add a layer of protection to customers and allow businesses to operate safely. All of this is necessary to transition out of the pandemic. And for this, we thank the premier for changing course.”

RNAO President Morgan Hoffarth commends the government for allowing an exemption to the vaccine requirement for medical reasons only (in addition to children under 12). “However, in this case, proof of a negative test should be required, in addition to the medical note specified in the government’s announcement,” insists Hoffarth.

As it rolls out its vaccine certificate plan, Hoffarth also cautions the government “to keep in mind that not everyone has access to the Internet or a cell phone. “That’s why the government must put a system in place that makes it easy for people who are vaccinated to obtain proof of their vaccination status, while respecting people’s privacy and security.”

“It’s well-known that this fourth wave of the pandemic is affecting mostly the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. That’s why a vaccine certificate plan needs to be in place. Such a plan will increase the number of individuals who get immunized, while protecting children under 12 who cannot be immunized and others who are vulnerable, especially those over the age of 80,” concludes Grinspun.